Teen Wolf — Review

Just how old was Mick anyway?

Before the Back to the Future series, Micheal J Fox starred in this cult classic underground movie. In the huge list of teenager films that make up the 80s, including Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – I’d argue that Teen Wolf should be up there – just because it was pure 80s cheese and it is nostaglic fun.

The movie has Fox as the nerdy kid who wants to be popular, date the prettiest girl at his school and be the coolest kid – but is often knocked back by bullies, including Mick – who I assume must be the only 30-something still at school.

Although the “werewolf” is an allegories of puberty has been done to death in movies, I did find it kinda strange that no-one seemed to mind that he was a werewolf and suddenly put the kid on a pedastool? Maybe they were all distracted by Stiles’ cashing in on the werewolf craze and mixing his own unique T-shirt company too.

Perhaps the most memorable sequence in the movie (other than “Pamela Wells” disrobing in front of Fox and the Van-surfin’) would be the classic montage using the song “Win in the End” by Mark Safan which is played in full during the final basketball sequence… it’s a very powerful song, even though it’s incredibly cheesy and 80s-esque.

Overall, a fun enjoyable trip down nostalgia lane.

Should you use a portal website for your website?

Of all products/services, perhaps websites are misunderstood by small business owners, and perhaps rightly so – there’s a lot of confusion out there, a lot of techno-babble and very little answers. Secondly, cost seems to be a large issue; although strangely it’s not the main reason…

I’ve noticed that portal sites (ie: local community driven websites) are starting to offer low-cost websites to local small businesses and essentially using the brand of the local portal site to act as a “piggy-back” to traffic. I’ve also seen some portal websites that offer FREE google adverts for 10.00+ per month.

But whilst this is all good, I see one or two problems.

  1. Firstly, it’s not really *your* website.
    What do I mean by that? Well I mean it’s not a proper www.yourcompanyname.com website – in fact, if you look closely, it really the portal’s website, and your brand/business is piggybacking on the back of the brand of the portal
  2. Over-reliance on Google PPC (Pay-per-click)
    Some portal sites offer guaranteed low-cost adverts on google, but most of the time the adverts on Google aren’t specifically for *your* company, if you look *very* closely you’ll notice the advert URL (website address) is that of the portal, not your website. Yes, the key phrases will market your business, but what you’re really doing is driving traffic to the portal’s website, not to your website… Secondly, relying soley on PPC makes you incredibily dependent on the PPC scheme, ask yourself do people really click on PPC adverts, or do they rely on normal (or organic) search results?
  3. The thinking of “I just need a website”
    Of course we you just want a website, and the natural assumption with using a portal website to hang your website on is a cheap, low-cost, low-mainteance and high-traffic way of getting your business online, but is it really helping your business – or is it just an advert on a portal website and nothing more? The question isn’t I just need a website, but rather what will the website do for your business, and why?
  4. There are other competitors advertising on the portal
    You might think so what, right? But hang on, if your advertising your website on the same place that your competitor is, then how is the whole portal different to say the classifieds or the yellow pages? There is no reason why anyone would want to choose you over a competitor. Sure the website’s cheap, but if the cost of having your website along your competitors is the price of your customer going elsewhere, then you need to ask yourself if it’s really of benefit to your business.

Should you ever use portal websites as a piggy back for your own website? Well, depending on your budget and of course if you don’t really care about your business brand, and you *just* want a website — then sure go for it, but if your serious about your business, serious about your website and recognise that your brand needs an effective web site (note, I didn’t say a web presence) then forget about portal sites, they won’t help your business in the long-run.

Branding 50 cent

I just finished watching the BBC’s money programme on hip-hop/rapper and ex-drug-dealer 50 cent and his rise from medicority to worldwide global icon through his many record sales and his “G-Unit” business, which has turned 50 Cent is a brand in his own right.

The world’s biggest brands are associating themselves with 50 Cent and other gangsters, but as the money programme correctly identified, the move is seen as very risky. Firstly, brands such as Reebok are associating themselves with ex-convicts but worse than that is the condoning of violence, drug-smuggling/dealing and shooting people, or doing anything to get to the top.

I don’t claim to understand 50 cent, or the hip-hop culture. But on a basic marketing level, the whole concept is brilliantly executed (or, if you’re deeply cynical, just a very well wrapped up ploy to extract cash from kids)…. each brand promotes and markets the other products, and those promote others, it’s sort of doing it’s own automated referral system.

Pushing it to the limit, and the paradox of hip-hop

Some rappers, like 50 cent often refer to the idea of “pushing it to the limit” (a reference to Scarface, starring Al Pacino); where the whole ethos of gangster rap works side-by-side with the business model for enterprise.

But this raises the question of the paradox of hip-hop. If by wrapping yourself into a business model, aren’t hip-hop artists in danger of just becoming another business, another brand who’s product is the glamourisation of violence, thuggery and the unobtainable life of a “gangster”?

Another paradox also haunts the whole gangsta lifestyle — surely the ones who rap themselves up in expensive, ultra-chic clothes/cars, etc and sing about how hard life is/was for them cannot easily and readily connect with people at the very bottom?

The constant need to keep it real

A lot of time, money and effort goes into branding a hip-hop artist into a business entreprenuer, but why is there a need by their peers to “keep it real”? Well, hip-hop is about talking about life on the street, and that’s why some people feel uncomfortable when they see hip-hop stars such as 50 cent utilising it as a marketing ploy…

I’m not actually sure what keeping it real means, does that mean you must keep to the social ladder you acquired and that one cannot better themselves, or that in order to achieve one must acquire, accept and request constant plaudits from peers, friends, and enemies alike?

Either way, the marketing of the unobtainable by verse of street-hip-hop communicates to a generation that is unreachable to today’s society, and although many people may fear the branding of hip-hop, I can’t fault it on a purely marketing and business standing.

There are some great ideas that 50 cent is doing in terms of publicity, but whether I’d want to buy his products I think I’ll say no thanks, I just don’t feel comfortable buying, wearing or eating 50 cent endorsed products… it’s just not in me, sorry!

What the hell is web 2.0?

Does web 2.0 actually exist, or is it just all super marketing hype?

Depends on who you listen to really. Web2.0 isn’t related to the amount of time it takes to download movies, files, etc (that’s Internet2, another of those buzzwords banded around since 1997), but rather it’s to do with User experience (at least I think it does).

The technology that springs to mind about web2.0 is, of course, Ajax… but apart from Ajax, is there really anything behind Web2.0 other than a bit of flashy Microsoft web technology?

I really don’t know to be honest. Web2.0 is either like your bread on LSD, made out of people or is an unknown paradigm. Even wikipedia isn’t really sure if web2.0 is more than a collection of technologies that have been in place for ages…

According to wikipedia, web2.0 is a website that uses one or more of the following techniques:

  • Unobtrusive Rich Internet Application techniques (such as Ajax)
  • CSS
  • Semantically valid XHTML markup and/or the use of Microformats
  • Advanced User Interface languages such as XUL and SVG
  • Flash Remoting
  • Syndication of data in RSS/Atom
  • Aggregation of RSS/Atom data
  • Clean and meaningful URLs
  • Weblog publishing
  • REST or XML Webservice APIs
  • Some social networking aspects

Feels like the hype over XML all over again…

Links;

Google Base; a move towards e-commerce

According to a recent article in the Financial Times, Google is planning to move closer towards providing e-commerce solutions targetting small business owners. Seen as an add-on to their current set of tools, Google plans to create an online market for traditional retailers via it’s recently unveiled “Google Base” service.

The “virtual supermarket” by developing the search engine is currently undergoing beta testing, but is seen as a direct move into other “add-on” areas by the Google brand.

Links:

Are micro-chunks the next big thing?

CNN has a great article on micro-chunks, which are starting to take off in America. What are micro-chunks? Well, in short, they are short video clips and animation clips designed to be shared with friends and used as either a marketing tool or a way of making money.

So what makes micro-chunks (also spelt “microchunks”) different to say vlogs (video logging)? Well they are very similar to vlogs, except they are much more viral and can be e-mailed to, linked to, etc… Of course, micro-chunks have been around for ages under the guise of flash movies such as “All your base are belong to us” and Photoshop comics like the rather tasteless “Ate my balls” phenomena.

But unlike back then when broadband was expensive and pipelines were small, now media giants are learning how to use the latest broadband technologies to play the microchunk game –and they hope to start making a lot of money at it. It’s essentially “broadband entertainment”.

Quote from CNN Article;

“Comedy Central’s clip service, called MotherLoad, offers one take on how a microchunk business model might work. It’s entirely free, but it plays in a pop-up window alongside a giant ad. (Short commercials also play before some segments.) In operation for only a few months, MotherLoad makes Daily Show clips available the morning after they air; hot ones have been watched, e-mailed, and blogged about hundreds of thousands of times in subsequent days. Instead of coming to the network’s website twice a month, the average visitor now shows up three times a week. “The real revelation for us has been the demand for having the segments online very quickly,” says Beth Lewand, Comedy Central’s vice president for digital media.

Of course, microchunking requires a radical transformation in the way media companies do business. In the past, consumers were content with media bundles: bulky newspapers, full-length albums, three-hour prime-time TV lineups. A flurry of recent digital distribution deals, however, is all about unbundling. MTV Networks is reorganizing itself into two parts, one that focuses on short-form video and one for longer shows. ABC and NBC are selling Desperate Housewives and Law & Order episodes for $1.99 a pop to video iPod users. ABC’s news clips with ads are available free online and through iTunes. CBS and NBC are selling on-demand reruns for 99 cents via cable and satellite. America Online and Warner Bros. (both, like this magazine, owned by Time Warner) are streaming old shows like Welcome Back, Kotter for free, hoping to make money from the ads.”

It is certainly very interesting, especially with Google now moving towards video.google.com and may even start charging for the service.

Links:

Should website designers be worried about Googlepages?

Google recently launched Googlepages, a WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) web application which allows the creation of very, very simple websites that will (at some stage) integrate with other Google APIs.

Googlepages (or Google Page Creator) is a free tool that allows you to create web pages right in your browser and publish them to the web in one click. With no software to design, and no web designer to hire the pages are hosted free of charge on Google’s massive servers and are available at “yourname.googlepages.com”.

Aimed at technophile’s who don’t know much about web site design, the package aims to help and empower people to create a website as “easily as creating a document in a word processor”.

But should this worry website designers/programmers? Well, if your market is small businesses clients who don’t have much money to spend and just want a website, you may do so. Why? Is just because it’s Google? Well, that and because very slowly the web is trying to move towards more usable, useful and engaging user experiences.

Taking a look at 37signals’ corporate philosophy does make me rethink the way I see the whole production of website applications, and the profileratioin of Web 2.0 technologies is going to make user experiences all the more useful, engaging, usable and rewarding.

But haven’t we heard all this before? For years Yahoo! promoted it’s Geocities service to empower people to create simple websites using it’s WYSIWYG service. Indeed, I remember a story a number of years ago that Walmart was selling websites for under $100 (I can’t rememeber the exact figure).

The marketing of websites is constantly being blurring; is it a product you can buy off the shelf, or is it a service?

This kind of poor marketing may actually end up damaging the website industry because clients will believe that websites are easy to create, and therefore should be cheap (ie: next to nothing / free) because it is a product you can get off the shelf, like printing or printer ink; when its not always the case.

Should website designers be worried about Googlepages? Probably not, there will always be people who will associate websites as being a product, something easy, something cheap and therefore will often look for the cheapest alternative.

I still think that hiring a professional web programmer/developer to achieve a specific goal will always be necessary (for the time being anyway!)

No Easy Way Out – Recreation Scene

no-easy-way-out

In this little vblog, a guy recreates the famous scene in Rocky IV where the soundtrack of No Easy Way Out is recreated almost shot-for-shot, except it has a Corvette, not a Lamborghini – and it is not littered with flashbacks of all the other Rocky films.

From site:
“This is a clip i filmed, acted, & directed. i used my old 3.2 Mega Pixel SONY digital camera that also records video. I edited the video using iMovie & then Final cut on my Powermac G5. This clip was originally only 52 sec long. But almost a year later when i did a post for it on DigitalCorvettes.com & CorvetteForum.com, i got so many great reviews that i decided to finish it. Enjoy…”

I thought it was great!

Note:
You will need the latest Apple Quicktime plug-in in order to play the vlog.

View the vlog at:
http://web.mac.com/q80/iWeb/f/Video%203.html

Windows Vista to come in 6 flavours

Microsoft recently announced that Microsoft Vista, due for launch later this year, will arrive in 6 different flavours. Vista is Microsoft’s newest computer operating system designed to replace the Windows XP family.

In addition to Vista, Microsoft will also launch Microsoft Internet Explorer version 7. Internet Explorer 7 will have tabs, be more secure and better all round, although it will cause a lot of headaches to those web developers who’ve used CSS hacks for websites.

The 6 different flavours of Microsoft Vista will be;

  1. Windows Starter 2007 (Previously Windows Vista Starter Edition).
    Apparantly this doesnt use the Vista branding because it won’t include the branded Windows Aero graphics display found in later Vista product lines and will be only available in a 32-bit version.
  2. Windows Vista Home Basic
    This is aimed at single-PC homes. Vista Home Basic is the basic version of Vista. There is also a EU version which doesn’t have Media Player for some reason.
  3. Windows Vista Home Premium
    Aimed at the whole-home entertainment market and offering more personal productivity throughout the home and on the go. This wll include everything from Vista Home Basic to Media Center and Media Center Extender functionality (including Cable Card support).
  4. Windows Vista Business
    Windows Vista Business is roughly the same as Windows XP Professional Edition today. This version is aimed at business decision makers and IT managers and generalists. Business N is aimed at the EU and will lack Windows Media Player.
  5. Windows Vista Enterprise.
    Optimized for the enterprise, this version will include unique features such as Virtual PC, the Multilingual User Interface (MUI), and the Secure Startup-Full Volume Encryption security technologies (“Cornerstone”), whatever they are.
  6. Windows Vista Ultimate. This offers everything, combining both Vista Home Premium and Vista Business, so it includes all the features of both those product versions, as well as additional features.

Concerns that the more featured Vista flavours will require a very high-end computer to run, and that Vista still hasn’t addressed the issues of computer security. Another issue raised was the idea that adverts will be running via the Internet onto your desktop. Whether the adverts are meant to subsidise the cost of Vista, or if its just there for money-making reasons is unclear.

What prevents Microsoft removing support from Vista Home Basic or Home Premium if the sales of either of these products don’t match their expectations. I mean, they’ve done it before – so the question raised is why even bother purchasing Home Basic when Home Premium might sell more, and therefore might be more supported by Microsoft?

Another issue of mine is whether printers, scanners, cameras, monitors and other devices will work with Vista? Will Vista screw up graphics cards or will it work better with them?

The concept behind vista is to bring “clarity to your world” but how can that be when the 6 different versions will end up confusing consumers and not helping them make an informed choice about which operating system to choose and why.

Is Vista’s 6 flavours purely a cynical marketing ploy — or, is it a real attempt to develop a “secure” operating system for different markets? What makes Ultimate so much better than the low-end version? And indeed, why even bother buying the small business edition when you can get Enterprise?

I think Vista will get a lot of buzz in the coming months and the move away from XP to Vista will grow slowly as people remain unconvinced of security, and technological issues.

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